Each night of December, groups of supporters have been gathering outside of Royal Oak Beaumont hospital with flashlights, for a project called “Moonbeams for Sweet Dreams.” At 8 p.m., the patients from their pediatric unit flash their lights from inside their hospital rooms, and look for the flashes to return from the outside.
On Monday, December 18th, an army of Athens Red Hawks brought flashlights, family and friends, and assembled in Royal Oak Beaumont’s parking lot to say good night to all the children, including classmate Caroline Mayne, and were joined by one of the biggest crowds ever in support of children staying in the hospital’s pediatric unit.
Caroline Mayne is facing the return of Hodgkin Lymphoma, which is a cancer that affects the lymphatic system, and is part of the body’s immune system. She was last year’s recipient of Athens’ Charity Week activities, called “Believe in Miracles,” which raised money and awareness for cancer prevention and treatment.
After a brief remission, Caroline’s cancer returned, and her support team was at the ready. “When Caroline’s mom (Hamilton Elementary School teacher Beth Mayne) found out, our school community went into action,” said Athens Principal Dr. Lara Dixon. “We engaged our art students to make encouraging posters for Caroline, that we put up at her home. Emails went out to the entire district about the Sweet Dreams flashlight event, and it truly went viral.”
Several hundred people attended on behalf of ‘Team Caroline,’ including teachers and kids from Hamilton Elementary, family members, Athens High School students and staff, and friends from across the district.
It is widely understood that beyond the physical challenges of illness, these young patients also face psychological and emotional stress during hospitalization. “They miss their friends and school. They miss home. They’re scared. They’re isolated in the hospital, often unable to leave their rooms, as the rest of the world continues without them,” said Beaumont Children’s Child Life Supervisor Kathleen Grobbel.
“Through Moonbeams For Sweet Dreams, Beaumont’s Pediatric Family Advisory Council (PFAC) has found a way to let them know they’re not forgotten.”
Cliff Brandmier, Liverpool Football Club coach for Caroline’s soccer team, LFC 01 Keegan, brought Caroline’s teammates and others from her club to cheer her on. “We are a team off the field as well as on the field. And these girls are supporting their teammate and friend, hoping to see her back on the soccer field in uniform again soon.”
“We knew where her room was,” said Hamilton PTA co-president Julie Gould, “And we held our banner and tied purple balloons to the light post directly down from her room.” The supporters were outside for nearly an hour, braving the cold and sharing warm thoughts for their friend and her family. Beth said they felt the love.
“How can something so horrible turn into something so good?” said Mayne. “I will tell you how…friends, family, community…that’s how! Even though Caroline began round 2 of the most toxic chemo out there later that night, we still have so much to be happy about, and she went into treatment feeling the love from all who attended.”
“It is extremely difficult to imagine seeing your child have to fight this battle,” concluded Gould. “But Caroline and the Mayne family will not fight alone. Monday night we showed our support by shining our flashlights from the parking lot. We want Caroline to know that she does not walk alone…an entire community walks with her.”